Lifeshield Security ReviewBy - 01/07/2019
Our Overall Rating
The Bottom Line
At Pepcom 2019, I had a chance to chat with the team behind LifeShield, a home security company that’s been reinvented and tossed around. We first reviewed them in 2013, and at that time, they were far from new. That same year, they were acquired by DIRECTV. After that, DIRECTV was acquired by AT&T which has its own home security system: Digital Life. I thought for sure that would be the end of LifeShield, but the leaders behind the system regrouped and decided to take the company back.
LifeShield is once again an independent home security company. They’ve reinvented and perhaps even distinguished themselves by being the only traditional alarm company that works with IFTTT, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s first start from the top: Monitoring and Equipment.
4-Layer Protection Starts With the Base
LifeShield’s security system relies primarily on broadband communication, which means you’ll need high-speed internet in order for it to work. However, the base station LifeShield uses actually supports four communication methods.
Broadband is the primary means of communication for LifeShield. Although not considered the most reliable communication method for home security, broadband is the fastest method of communication.
The second communication layer is cellular, which is used by our top alarm companies. Cellular is considered the safest form of communication as it’s not prone to disruptions and there are no wires to cut. The cellular chip needed for this to work is built into the LifeShield Home Security base station.
The third layer of communication is called Cellular Text.
If all else fails, the base station can use your Landline Phone, assuming you have one. While this final method is the traditional communication method for home security systems, it’s far from reliable. Landlines are prone to disruptions and burglars can use wire-cutters to disable communication. Not relying solely on a landline is a good move by LifeShield.
Aside from the base station’s multiple means of communication, it’s also equipped with 24-hour battery backup. The LifeShield security system will continue protecting you with or without internet or power for up to a day
The base station also offers Smash & Crash Protection. This feature offers protection from intruders who might look for and destroy your alarm system. With Smash & Crash Protection, the base station will send a soft alert to the monitoring center the moment the intruder breaks in. The soft alert will become an active alert if the disarm PIN isn’t entered within a set time limit. Even if the intruder destroys the base station, the monitoring center will receive the alert.
Monitoring & Equipment Pricing
LifeShield offers three monitoring plans. The cheapest plan is Security Essential for $29.99 per month. Next is Security Advantage for $39.99 per month. And the most expensive package is Security Professional for $49.99 per month.
|Security Essential||Security Advantage||Security Professional|
|Fire and Carbon Monoxide Monitoring|
|Mobile App Access|
|Cloud Storage||30 Days||30 Days|
All three plans cover the cost of monitoring. The equipment needed to protect your home is sold separately with an introductory price of $299.99.
The $299.99 kit is built for the Security Essential plan and includes a base station (with keypad and fob), a security tablet, a motion sensor, a fire safety sensor, and two entry sensors.
A second kit is available for $399.99, which is built for Security Advantage. With it, you’ll get an extra motion sensor, two more entry sensors, and an indoor security camera with 30 days of cloud storage plus everything included in the $299.99 kit.
The options above are all contract-free meaning that you can cancel your service at any time. If you’re willing to sign a 36-month contract, you can get started by paying a $99 activation fee, thus eliminating the upfront cost of equipment.
|Security Essential Kit||Security Advantage/Professional Kit|
|Base Station||4-Layer Communication w/ Battery Backup||4-Layer Communication w/ Battery Backup|
|Fire Safety Sensor||1||1|
|Indoor Security Camera||1|
If you want to expand your equipment beyond what’s included, you can certainly do that. Beyond the bundled kit, devices are priced and sold individually.
- Entry Keypad $100
- Keychain Remote $50
- Security Touchpad $100
- Motion Sensor $100
- Door & Window Sensors $50
- Indoor Security Camera $140
- Glass Break Sensor $110
TIP: LifeShield is known for running promotional packages. We’ve seen everything from free equipment to three months of free monitoring to a free tablet. If you decide that LifeShield is for you, and your package doesn’t have everything you need, you might want to dig around to see if you can get something extra.
Regarding installation, LifeShield’s equipment is easy to install, even without the help of professionals. Most of the devices that are compatible with their system are also wireless (except for the base station which requires power, Ethernet, and a landline connection), so there’s no need to run wires or drill into your walls. However, if you want help, you can request professional installation. Be sure to hire a LifeShield-accredited installer as doing otherwise might void your system warranty. After professional installation, you must check your system thoroughly and report any problems to LiveWatch within seven days. On the 8th day, your system is considered fully operational and service repair requests will then be billed.
A summary of what you need to know about LifeShield’s Equipment and Monitoring:
- No Contract and Contract Options
- Landline, Broadband, and Cellular Monitoring in one base station
- 24/7 Monitoring for Burglaries, Fires, and Carbon Monoxide
- Proprietary Equipment
- 24-Hour Battery Backup
- DIY or Professional Installation
In the past, home automation wasn’t LifeShield’s strong suit. In fact, they lacked smart home services until recently. Now, LifeShield is certified to work with Z-Wave lights, locks, thermostats, and garage doors. LifeShield can also connect with smart home devices from hundreds of third-party brands.
LifeShield Supported Automation
The LifeShield app allows you to take control of your home remotely. Using the app, you can arm and disarm your system, turn lights on or off, adjust your thermostat, and more. Also, you can use the app to view local crime maps and take a quiz to get your personal “safety score.” Your score is presented alongside tips to improve it. However, being able to turn lights on and off with a phone and view local crime stats isn’t automation. True automation comes from LifeShield’s Rules Engine.
The Engine allows you to control multiple Z-Wave devices with one command. For example, you might create a rule that closes your garage door, locks the front door, and turns down the thermostat at night. Rules Engine is even smart enough to accept conditions. For example, you might say, “Turn my AC on during the summer, but only if (condition) all of my windows are closed.” The system, unfortunately, does not offer geofencing which affects both automated rules (you can’t set the garage door to open when you arrive home) and remote arming and disarming (you can’t set your alarm to arm when you drive away from home). While the system can’t arm and disarm itself, LifeShield’s app offers interactive alerts. These alerts allow for custom reminders. For example, “It’s 10:15 pm and you have not armed your alarm.”
Beyond triggering directly connected devices, you can also control third-party devices via IFTTT. LifeShield’s IFTTT channel lets you combine LifeShield sensors and products with hundreds of third-party smart home devices and services to create rule-based automation.
Currently, LifeShield supports nine triggers and eleven actions, which is more than sufficient. Trigger options include a sensor event, a device or network issue, a change in lights, a door lock/thermostat/garage event, a change in arm state, and a camera motion/alarm event. Action options include arm system, turn on/off light, set dimmer, lock door, close garage door, set thermostat in auto mode to a temperature range or heat or cool to a single temperature, take a snapshot, record a video clip, and execute a rule.
It’s this final option that is the most intriguing. Execute a rule allows you to execute a rule you’ve created using your LifeShield account. For example, you might create an IFTTT rule that says, “When Life360 detects my presence, then trigger my LifeShield ‘Goodnight Rule’.” Essentially, this is a way to work around LifeShield’s lack of geofencing.
Second, using the LifeShield Alexa skill, you can control your security system and smart home devices using your voice, provided that you own an Alexa device such as Echo or Echo Dot.
Finally, LifeShield works with Google Home. As with the Alexa skill, you can arm and disarm your system, turn on lights, and control your thermostat. You can also use Google Assistant to lock and unlock your doors.
LifeShield offers video surveillance, assuming you’re subscribed to Security Advantage or Security Professional. LifeShield offers an indoor security camera and a video doorbell.
The indoor camera is viewable via the LifeShield app or the wireless controller tablet included with every system. It includes a built-in motion detector and is capable of alert-based recordings. You can also configure it to start recording if a security sensor is tripped or based on a schedule. Event clips are saved to the cloud. Both the Security Advantage and Security Professional offer 30 days of cloud storage. If that’s not enough, you can pay to upgrade to 60 days of storage.
Second, launched at CES 2019, LifeShield will soon offer a Wi-Fi-enabled video doorbell. The doorbell has a 1080p resolution, two-way audio, and access to the same cloud storage options as the indoor camera. Its most significant advantage over the indoor camera is that it includes video analytics which enables person detection. The camera can distinguish between people and objects.
LifeShield’s video doorbell can send email, text, and push notifications when an event (motion or ring) is detected. The push notification will include a snapshot of the event. This is different than the indoor camera. The indoor camera sends an animated GIF, but LifeShield decided to choose a snapshot for the doorbell as it increases the speed of the alert.
The doorbell is wired or you can buy an optional battery pack. It can work with your existing digital or analog door chimes, but will not work with wireless chimes. LifeShield is also exploring adding a chime option to their tablet.
Finally, while LifeShield lacks an outdoor camera, you can still create a relationship to such devices using IFTTT. There are several outdoor camera systems that work with IFTTT including Arlo, Nest Cam, and Ring.
A summary of what you need to know regarding LifeShield’s smart home services:
- Indoor Camera and a Video Doorbell
- Rules Engine
- Remote Arm/Disarm
- Z-Wave Compatible
- Works With Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT
Customer Service & Support
The first thing you need to know about LifeShield’s customer service is that their history is too short to tell the story.
As already mentioned, LifeShield functioned as its own entity before acquisition by DirecTV. DirecTV ran LifeShield for many years before being acquired itself by AT&T, and now LifeShield is back on its own. The difference is that now, there’s a horde of new rivals for LifeShield to compete with including abode, Frontpoint, Scout, SimpliSafe, Nest Secure, and Ring Alarm.
So with LifeShield re-running solo, it’s hard to say how things will pan out for them. While the team behind LifeShield saw the AT&T acquisition as a negative for their customer service experience, we saw it as a positive as Digital Life offers clear policies backed by an A+ rating from the BBB.
On the other hand, LifeShield has been inconsistent. Currently, they also hold an A+ rating which is an improvement over their previous B- score.
That said, let’s focus in on something that matters more than a score: terms and conditions.
- Contract Length: In order to receive free equipment, you must sign a 36-month or 60-month contract; however, you don’t have to sign a contract if you purchase your equipment upfront
- Cancellation: Contracts can be canceled for free if you’re called for duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces or reserves. Otherwise, there will be a cancellation fee.
- Contract Renewal: Contracts automatically renew unless you send a written notice to LifeShield at least 60 days before your current contract ends.
- Return Policy: The return period for LifeShield is 30 days from the day you ordered the system. Even if returned on time, the return shipping fee will be deducted from your refund.
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